François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, France, since 2014
World Mayor Nominations 20/21
François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, France
The 20/21 World Mayor Prize and Commendations will be conferred on mayors who have been showing leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and who are now aiming to make their cities more resilient economically, structurally, socially and environmentally. In fact: Stronger | Fairer | Greener. The organisers of the World Mayor Project are looking for mayors who have shown exceptional leadership skills but also, and more importantly, acted at all times with compassion towards those most affected by Covid-19. The pandemic has shown how vulnerable even the richest cities are when confronted with a disaster like Covid-19. Forward-looking city leaders will now begin to re-think how their communities can be better protected against future threats, both natural and man-made.
François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, France, has been nominated for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize.
You may wish to support him further and comment on his achievements and plans for his city.
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WORLD MAYOR 20/21
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- Mayor of Amsterdam
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Mayor of Saint-Omer (France)
Nominated by Jasna G., outside France:
Saint-Omer Mayor François Decoster is one of the mayors who sees beyond the borders of his city and his country. He works in the way of taking experiences on local level (bad and good) to the European level, trying to find solutions not just for his city but for all. He is good when it comes to solving crises. That's how he dealt with migrant crises and found a solutions how can city help to migrants and how to make it works within local community. And the same is now with Corona crises. He is always a great supporter in Committee of the Regions (EU) of green economy, environmental friendly politics. He is a politician who tries to find common solutions/ways between different political parties specially when it comes to main EU topics.
Nominated by Frederic F., outside France
It is with great pleasure that I would like to nominate François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, France, for the 20/21 World Mayor award.
François Decoster has been Mayor of Saint-Omer since 2014 and was convincingly re-elected in June of this year while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, with 65% of the vote. During this pandemic he led by example in taking care for his citizens while managing all the day to day affairs, and under his leadership Saint-Omer is a stronger, fairer and greener city.
He made his city stronger providing his citizens with adequate information, help and care. During the pandemic he hosted, organized or oversaw several citizen initiatives. To ensure that citizens would be able to adapt to the confinement, he hosted Facebook live sessions during which citizens could ask questions, and repeated this exercise in light of the confinement.
He was also a Mayor for all his citizens, ensuring fairness by taking measures that helped all population groups. He crafted a plan to accompany businesses and help entrepreneurs in economic difficulty with the Emergency Fund, providing €400,000 for small business and the self-employed, with, among other measures, also scrapping the annual terrace tax for 2020.
He took the initiative to supply each and every one of his citizens ˆ even the ones which are not on the electoral rolls or aren’t taken into account in the census - with a free face mask, announcing this in mid-April and delivering on this promise in May. To take care of the elderly, he put in place a service of food deliveries at home and had the most vulnerable called on a regular basis to see whether they needed any assistance. He also kept in place a food market during the pandemic as long as possible as a supply point, with strict security measures, to make necessities available during a period when regular shops were affected.
Also his municipal staff that helped out during the crisis were not forgotten: many, including those who were mobilized whole days and outside normal working hours to ensure continuity of services and help, were all awarded a bonus to show appreciation for their efforts under difficult circumstances. Working on an inclusive city he also supports young refugees, as his town was the only town in that region of France with a center for underage refugees, integrating them through sports such as cricket, to fight many preconceptions, as featured in the New York Times. He also works tirelessly to integrate his town and region with surrounding regions in other countries such as in Flanders, Belgium, signing cooperation agreements in terms of culture and employment.
In addition, to bring his city back in shape after this pandemic and ensure its bright future, he launched the local recovery plan or "Plan de Relance", showing energy and commitment to this cause, with an emphasis on three main objectives: ecological transition, digital developments and the upgrade of local heritage. As examples for this last field, Decoster was the driving force for the reopening after important renewal works of the authentic Italian theatre after having been unused for 45 years, and transforming the train station into "La Station", a co-working and innovative centre with a station in it, after it was closed in 2011 for security reasons, thereby giving it a successful second life.
Keeping his city Green also proved to be a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Waste facilities were temporarily closed, trash collection via yellow bags were put to the disposal of people in shops. He also oversaw the creation of a forum of associations for a more ecological and inclusive transition by citizens for the actions already underway, while also carrying out energy audits for municipal buildings and measuring carbon impacts.
Finally, François Decoster also works and thinks as a real European, bringing people together. One of his ideas he launched as member of the European Committee of the Regions and which he spearheaded in his home region in France is that of having "European Correspondents", a network of volunteer correspondents who are all members of local municipal councils. They would bring Europe closer to the citizens and strengthen the links between the local level and the EU, integrating them more by disseminating correct and useful information about the European Union and making citizens aware of opportunities that could benefit them.
In conclusion, given all this, it is with admiration and utmost respect I put François Decoster up as potential World Mayor.